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Empty Nest

This morning we got up at 5am to get Jane off to the airport. Her flight left out of United at LAX which is a dismal dated terminal on the far South end of the airport. It’s the terminal left over for the puddle jumpers that are flown by kids straight out of the airforce and flight attendants who are decidedly unglamorous. United Terminal 7 is the ugly stepchild at LAX, and we had to find our way to gate 88. I want to know what happens at gates one through 87.

Last night I’d checked Jane in online and then called to pay the $99 fee for an unaccompanied minor. I was told that because she’d been checked in I’d have to wait in line at the airport. A lot of us had to wait in lines this morning.

Jane hugged her Dad about eight thousand times and I looked at the two of them and felt left out. It’s not an uncommon feeling, it’s not a bad feeling either. It’s just this otherworldly sense that two of the people you love most in the world are absolutely and totally devoted to one another and they’re busy being in each other’s space that there’s this force field around them that keeps you out but also draws you in. It’s not bad, it’s the same way I sometimes feel when Jane and Alexander share a joke and his laughter rings through the air.

Unlike other airlines United only allows for one adult to escort a minor to the gate. Since Mr G has an office job I was the one who got to walk her to the gate. We went through security and a jovial TSA agent explained to us that someone had put an animal through the Xray. I didn’t believe him.

After maneuvering through security I bought Jane an orange juice and three magazines. We then went to Starbucks and waited in line behind a woman with excessive amounts of restalyne in her top lip and her micro mini dog. She was calling everyone she knew to ask about radiation poisoning and eventually asked two pilots in line if the xray is considered dangerous. Apparently Lola the purse puppy was accidentally placed on the conveyor belt and then passed through the xray machine.

Darwin, I think. Jane snickers, she is my daughter.

We get to the gate and they call Gottlieb, before the plane boards a flight attendant takes my daughter away. We hug. We kiss. We hug again. This is not the way we say goodbye, but this isn’t a goodbye we’ve ever said before. I ask her to text me when the plane lands and I remind that if anyone bothers her she should make a scene. I whisper to her that I’m proud and excited for her, we kiss and she walks away. She doesn’t look back.

As my daughter disappears onto her flight I sit at the window and cry. I don’t pull on sunglasses, I don’t care. I just cry. Mostly because I’m so happy for her.